The Review Group reviews The Spirit #10!
The Review Group is a special and bawdry band of posters who post reviews in a thread filled with awesome chatter, inane ramblings and fierce discussions. Royal Nonesuch chose The Spirit #10 as the week's pick.
Without further review, here's your reviews.
Review by Eli Katz
Standalone issues are rare today. It seems that every story has to be a six- or twelve-issue arc, filled with double-page spreads and overly long, wordless action scenes. So I find it very refreshing when a writer is able to tell a complete story in 22 pages or less, and fill each page with a good mix of dialogue and action.
David Hine demonstrates that he's a sharp, efficient storyteller in SPIRIT #10, giving us a fast-paced, one-and-done story entitled "Crime and Punishment." Hine's story focuses on the life of Roscoe Kalashnikov, a small-time thief who suffers from paranoid hallucinations. As a child, Roscoe was locked in a dank, dark basement infested with cockroaches that would crawl all over his shivering body. Now, as an adult, Roscoe is convinced that certain people in New York are giant humanoid roaches that only he can see. When he stumbles upon a gun with a silencer, he decides that he must act as an exterminator and shoot down the oversized roach in his neighborhood, an old woman that runs a pawnshop. From there, the story only gets crazier.
I like this issue for a couple of reasons. First, I like the fact that, in a few short pages, Hine introduces us to Roscoe, gives us his backstory, and tells an entertaining, little crime yarn. Second, I like the retro feel that Hine gives this book. As I was flipping through the pages, I kept thinking about the old Cornell Woolrich and Jim Thompson stories that commonly featured demented psychopaths. Roscoe is the kind of freaky madman that you'd find in classic pulp fiction: Men who are unhinged and violent and yet somehow, on a certain level, sympathetic.
Moritat's art is perfect for this story and book. He captures the spirit (pun intended) of Eisner's work and, at the same time, produces some very stylized, original-looking illustrations. I love his heavy, rough line work. It makes everything look older, creepier, and more decrepit.
SPIRIT #10 is by no means a mind-blowing book. But it is a solid page-turner that captures and celebrates old-time storytelling in both comics and magazines.
Review by Stephen Day
It was an interesting choice by David Hine to tell this story from the point of view of the story's villain. Roscoe Kalashnikov made for an interesting protagonist. His insect phobia and delusions made for some really creepy moments. The panel with Kalashnikov seeing Old Ma Stringer as a giant cockroach in particular was really quite creepy.
The way that the feeling of Kalashnikov's growing fear built up over the course of the story was what made this story for me. The ending was surprising, but still fit the overall story very well. I loved the final panel, it was possibly the creepiest moment of this story and a great way to end things.
9 out of 10
Review by Daringd
I like The Spirit however I was spoiled by Dawryn Cooke. Every isue of his run was 10/10 for me. This issue was fun entertainment, What a comic should be not something that takes it's self incredibly serious I'm glad I read it but boy do I miss Cooke. Also props to David Hine this is one the first things I've enjoyed of his.
Review by Starlord
The Spirit #10I didn't like The Spirit that much but I do like Avenue Q.
My Score: 4
Review by God-Man
Good issue. Roscoe was a pretty well sketched character, and I liked seeing how his obsessions slowly consumed him throughout the story. It was also a good example of how powerful the character and idea of The Spirit is in that universe. The man himself is pretty ordinary, but his legend is anything but.
Review by Victorious Squid
The hardest books for me to review are the books I liked, but didn't love. Books where I appreciate the craft, but it didn't quite leave me wanting more. I really enjoy writing reviews for books I thought were fantastic, or that took me by surprise. I take a different sort of pleasure from writing even just a scathing paragraph about a book I absolutely despise. But a book I thought was pretty good? Is a lot more difficult.
But hey, I liked The Spirit #10!
I just didn't love it.
So I will borrow a quote here from the real-life Mikhail Kalashnikov, from whom the unfortunate protagonist in the story is named probably and inventor of the AK-47: "Before attempting to create something new, it is vital to have a good appreciation of everything that already exists in this field."
It's clear David Hine has an excellent appreciation of what makes for classic Eisner-era Spirit: the self-contained and tidy story without a single sub-plot or loose end, the mix of genre elements using a crime, some wry humor, and even a little horror. But the story of this Kalashnikov,a mentally-ill burglar who hallucinates the crooked old fence he unloads his ill-gotten goods on is a giant bug and kills her then is haunted to suicide by an oath she makes before dying, first makes the reader empathize for the criminal by showing the horrific abuse he was subjected to as a child. The true villain here is the father, shown only in the beginning flashback. Even the old woman he kills--and no, "Mary Jane" doesn't do that--is crooked, herself a criminal and pretty despicable on top of that. So when he shoots her, I give a big ol' shrug of the shoulders, but poor Kalashnikov here totally fucking loses it and, in a classic "eaten alive by their own guilt" scene, sees reminders of The Spirit everywhere until he turns the gun on himself. Speaking of that gun, how exactly did Kalashnikov remember to ditch the used silencer, but not the gun itself? Or not notice the gun in his coat pocket before then, guns being sorta heavy? But then Roscoe K sets himself up for an episode of World's Dumbest Criminals and leaves his wallet on the table? I'm not sure this guy was cut out for the crime world, really.
Real-life Kalashnikov again: "Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple."
Ok fair enough, I won't ask any more questions. He has time for just one more dumb move, hiding in the basement instead of just tossing his rod like a sensible guy. Poor old Roscoe Kalashnikov. It seems very familiar somehow, like I've seen or read a very similar story before,and The Spirit himself is barely in the book at all, so it seems unfair to judge it as a Spirit book at all really--more like one of those archetypal morality tales we tell ourselves over and over.
The art is at times reminiscent of Eisner as well, but only at times. Oh, and if your gunman is left-handed in real life, he's also liable to be left-handed in his imagination--a minor quibble for sure. A bigger gripe would be that even as little as he appears, The Spirit's face looks actually swiped from Eisner in some panels and more like a weird pseudo-anime version of himself in others. It's not consistent, and in some panels I did not like how he looked at all. It definitely felt like there were two styles at war here, the artist's style, and the artist-doing-Eisner's style and you can't merely look like you're imitating a writer/artist creator of that calibur some of the time. Especially with coloring this bad. Seriously, I am not going to look for the colorist's name in case I remember it. Work on that level should be forgotten anyway. It was abysmal.
So, I would give this an 8, but the truly shit-bad peas 'n' vomit coloring drops me to a
Review by Mammon, Fool Breaker
Cover- Another Jan. DC cover, its got a guy on it who I'm guessing will be a part of the story. (5/10)
Story- I am surprised by how much I really liked the story, first time ever reading the Spirit too. I didn't see the ending coming at all. (6/10)
Art- Solid, more of my style. Cassanova was to gritty. (6/10)
Overall- Very pleased with this choice. Enjoyed it. (6/10)
Review by Rogers
I can't say that I've read a lot of The Spirit. I've read Cooke's run, but that's it. I am one of the 3 people who loves Frank Miller's The Spirit, heck I even have a movie poster hanging here in my office, but that's kind of it's own thing so I don't really consider myself a fan of the character.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this. I was hoping for a fun rollicking Spirit adventure, but what I got was a tale about a schizophrenic thug who goes on to commit suicide. Bummer. It was a decent enough little noir story, but nothing stood out about it. Same goes for the art.
That's it for this week. Remember if you want to join the microcosm of awesomeness known as the Review Group, simply click on The News Stand forum and hunt down the most recent Review Group thread.
Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak